6-Pack Abs: 7 Must Try Bay Area classes for a stronger core

So, you’re lookin’ for a 6-pack, eh? We get it. For many, definition in their abdominals is the ultimate expression of hard work because washboard abs are just so hard to get (apparently, you’re supposed to make them in the kitchen?).         

But, there’s so much more to a strong core than a 6-pack. For example, Harvard Health has made mention that strong core can help relieve lower back pain, help you maintain good posture, and maintain balance. Generally speaking, a stronger core means better injury prevention, physical performance, and better posture. So, where do you go to get your mid section worked? We did some digging and found seven classes across the Bay Area (and in various fitness types) where the core of class is your core.

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Absolution Express at WheelHouse

If you only have 30 minutes to spare and are looking for a core-focused class that will leave you sore for days, then this is the perfect class for you. Imagine a core finisher you might see at the end of a HIIT class, and expand that out for 30 minutes. It's tough! But still suitable for all levels because the instructors are great about scaling movements where needed. You'll use a variety of equipment, from pilates balls and rings to WheelHouse's innovative cable system that allows you to control the resistance digitally.

Pro Tip: Be sure to go to the main studio where the spin classes are held, not the yoga-specific studio across the way. The spaces are first come, first serve, so be sure to arrive early. Towels are provided.

WheelHouse | One Embarcadero Center, San Francisco | 415.666.2288 | Wheelhouse-sf.com

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Jump & Core at Mighty Pilates

Jump & Core at Mighty Pilates

This class is literally in the name, jumping and core work. The class spends about half of the time focusing on jumping movements, either on the reformer or on the jumpboard and the second half is focused on core work on the Reformer. Don't think the first half will be core-free because jumping requires a very stable core, so you'll learn real quick whether or not those nightly crunches have paid off.

Pro Tip: be sure you are proficient on a Reformer machine before taking this class, otherwise start with their Foundations classes and work up from there. Either way, your core will thank you (after the soreness goes away).

Mighty Pilates | 3654 Sacramento St. San Francisco |415-563-1947 | mightypilates.com

Additional location in Larkspur

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9Round Circuit at 9Round

Kickboxing is a great way to work your core, get your heart rate up, tone your arms and build endurance, all at the same time. And 9Round removes all the excuses for not making it to class. First off, they have no class times. You just come in and jump into the circuit, which consists of 9 stations that you move through every 3 minutes until you've completed them all, totally a 30-minute workout. And the workouts change daily which means you're never bored. So there are zero excuses to miss your workout at 9Round.

Pro Tip: You'll need to bring your own hand wraps and towel. If you have them, bring your own gloves too as the ones provided are not new.

9Round | 91 Dempsey Rd. Milpitas | 408.493.6328 | 9round.com

Additional Bay Area locations in Morgan Hill, San Jose, Mountain View, Emeryville, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Walnut Creek, San Leandro, Oakland, Danville, and Lafayette

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X-Burn at X-Core

X-Burn is X-Core's signature level 2 pilates class, performed on Reformer machines. As most pilates Reformer classes, X-Burn is focused on strength-building and full body conditioning through core stabilization. So no matter what movement you find yourself doing during this class, you best believe your core will be working hard to keep stable and maintain your balance. What makes Pilates great is that it's low impact, meaning you'll leave the class feeling more energized than when you came in and won't get as exhausted or sore later on. But this doesn't mean you won't be getting your butt (and core) kicked during class.

Pro Tip: You will need grip socks for this class, but they can be purchased at the studio for those who do not have any.

X-Core | 4435 Piedmont Ave Oakland | 510.214.2492 | xcorestudio.com

Additional location in Lake Merritt, Oakland

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30 Minute Ab Intensive at PureBarre

Barre is another exercise that utilizes the core for most of its low impact, isometric movements that will leave you shaking (seriously). The 30-minute Ab Intensive class at PureBarre is usually only offered periodically through the week, but it's worth the weekly commitment when you cna find it. At 30 minutes, it might seem easy, but this class is anything but. In fact, this is one of the toughest classes on the list due to those isometric movements in core-strengthening poses. This class is suitable for all levels, though they also offer Foundations classes for those looking for a more structured introduction to barre.

Pro Tip: Call ahead to the studio closest to you to find out when the next 30 Minute Ab Intensive class will be held.

PureBarre|299 S California Ave Palo Alto|650-798-4048|www.purebarre.com

Additional locations in Berkeley, Burlingame, Marin, Napa, Pleasanton, San Rafael, Sonoma, and Walnut Creek

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LE-Springboard-Deep Core at EHS Pilates

Pilates is serious business at EHS, and taking classes here means learning the proper techniques of each movement and enjoying a community of like-minded people passionate about Pilates. They offer teacher training for those looking to become pilates instructors, and they also offer private sessions as well as movement therapies like chiropractic work, weight loss, and Qigong. The Deep Core class is a 50-minute exploration into a deeper level of pilates, centered around core movements. This is an intense class and probably not suitable for complete beginners.

Pro Tip: Socks are required for this class and if you need to cancel, be sure to do so within 12 hours of the class start time.

EHS Pilates |1452 Valencia St. San Francisco | 415.285.5808| EHSPilates.com

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All Levels Pole at VRV3 Studios

VRV3 is one of the premier pole dancing studios in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and they are working to erase the stigma of pole dancing through focusing on the artistry and strength benefits of the exercise. All Levels Pole is just that, a class geared for all levels to enjoy a class, rather than just focusing on classes amongst your level (ranging from 1-4). However, for first-timers, it's recommended to take Level 1 to start.

Pro Tip: It's recommended to wear shorts and a tank top or sports bra to class because you'll use your skin to stick to the pole.

VRV3 Studios |1419 Stockton St San Francisco | 415.872.9077 | vrv3studios.com

So make it a goal to get that six-pack you've always wanted by sprinkling in a few of these workouts in your regular routine. Just remember a strong, ripped core only comes with a balanced diet and diverse fitness routine (unfortunately, there’s no such thing a spot training your body).  Be sure to leave comments below if you have any additional recommendations or thoughts on our list.